Moody trail-blazes DOD munitions airlift initiative

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Hannah Colligan
  • 23d Wing Public Affairs

It takes several moving people and pieces to successfully and safely load and airlift munitions, but thanks to an innovative approach, the 23d Wing pioneered an effective and more efficient munitions airlift initiative for the Department of Defense.

Just in time for Mosaic Tiger 21-1, Airmen with the 23d Maintenance Squadron munitions flight took it upon themselves to obtain a certification allowing personnel to airlift fully built bombs on an MHU-141/M munitions trailer, making Moody the first base in any Air Force command to complete and certify this process for agile combat employment.

“Having the bombs ‘ready for employment’ and loaded on the trailer allows teams to maneuver the bombs to outstations, significantly reducing the footprint and simultaneously enhancing agility,” said Chief Master Sgt. Kurt Tom, 23d Maintenance Squadron ammo superintendent. “It’s pretty awesome to be a part of the team that’s blazing trails affecting Air Force Diversity in lethality.”

The MHU-141 is the smallest of the three typical munitions trailers used for ground transport of munitions to the flightline for aircraft loading. Air Force guidance precludes the packaging of munitions without meeting the hazardous material preparation for shipment, but with an Air Transportability Test Loading Activity certification, DOD assets can quickly and efficiently load fully built munitions for air transport on the MHU trailer.

“I started working the approval process for certification with ATTLA in November, 2020, to plan to ensure each bomb was secure for airlift and met all mobility aircraft restrictions for [certain cargo] aircraft,” said Master Sgt. Andrew Holsenback, 23d Wing agile combat employment readiness manager.  “With the help of munitions personnel, rescue loadmasters, Air Force Material Command, and ATTLA, we certified a plan to accomplish this task.  ATTLA then reviewed my proposal and issued an evaluation letter authorizing Moody to test the procedures during our exercise—now that the exercise showcased we can do this safely, ATTLA will republish this letter as a certification for all DOD assets.”

The newly approved process was put to the test during Mosaic Tiger 21-1, when Multi-capable Airmen teams airlifted six fully built BDU-50 practice bombs to contingency location Patrick Space Force Base—achieving mission success.

“This was the first time we have transported munitions to an outstation via air transport,” said Holsenback. “Moody AFB personnel were able to rapidly infiltrate contingency locations and establish integrated combat turn sites with minimal personnel and within 30 minutes of arrival.

Previous to this certification, MCA teams would have to build each bomb at the contingency locations, requiring additional personnel to assemble the bombs and quite a few hours of time in a possible hostile environment.

“Normally when you load an aircraft, the munitions are broken down into several pieces,” said Master Sgt. Anthony Bagent, 23d Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons loading element NCO in charge. “This certification approves us to consolidate those pieces down to one trailer, reducing the Air Force’s operational footprint and enhancing agility.”

The approved ATTLA certification process that Moody successfully executed during Mosaic Tiger standardizes the load throughout the DOD, and allows all bases to accept and all airframes to transport munitions without restrictions.